[New to our exegesis of John’s Gospel? Try starting at The Beginning — John 1:1-2].
25 They found him on the other side of the lake and asked, “Rabbi, when did you get here?”
26 Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, you want to be with me because I fed you, not because you understood the miraculous signs. 27 But don’t be so concerned about perishable things like food. Spend your energy seeking the eternal life that the Son of Man can give you. For God the Father has given me the seal of his approval.”
28 They replied, “We want to perform God’s works, too. What should we do?”
29 Jesus told them, “This is the only work God wants from you: Believe in the one he has sent.”
30 They answered, “Show us a miraculous sign if you want us to believe in you. What can you do? 31 After all, our ancestors ate manna while they journeyed through the wilderness! The Scriptures say, ‘Moses gave them bread from heaven to eat.’”
32 Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, Moses didn’t give you bread from heaven. My Father did. And now he offers you the true bread from heaven. 33 The true bread of God is the one who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”
34 “Sir,” they said, “give us that bread every day.”
25 Καὶ εὑρόντες αὐτὸν πέραν τῆς θαλάσσης εἶπον αὐτῷ· Ῥαββί, πότε ὧδε γέγονας; 26 ἀπεκρίθη αὐτοῖς ὁ Ἰησοῦς καὶ εἶπεν· Ἀμὴν ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν, ζητεῖτέ με οὐχ ὅτι εἴδετε σημεῖα ἀλλ’ ὅτι ἐφάγετε ἐκ τῶν ἄρτων καὶ ἐχορτάσθητε· 27 ἐργάζεσθε μὴ τὴν βρῶσιν τὴν ἀπολλυμένην ἀλλὰ τὴν βρῶσιν τὴν μένουσαν εἰς ζωὴν αἰώνιον, ἣν ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου ὑμῖν δώσει, τοῦτον γὰρ ὁ πατὴρ ἐσφράγισεν ὁ θεός. 28 εἶπον οὖν πρὸς αὐτόν· Τί ποιῶμεν ἵνα ἐργαζώμεθα τὰ ἔργα τοῦ θεοῦ; 29 ἀπεκρίθη ὁ Ἰησοῦς καὶ εἶπεν αὐτοῖς· Τοῦτό ἐστιν τὸ ἔργον τοῦ θεοῦ ἵνα πιστεύητε εἰς ὃν ἀπέστειλεν ἐκεῖνος. 30 εἶπον οὖν αὐτῷ· Τί οὖν ποιεῖς σὺ σημεῖον, ἵνα ἴδωμεν καὶ πιστεύσωμέν σοι; τί ἐργάζῃ; 31 οἱ πατέρες ἡμῶν τὸ μάννα ἔφαγον ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ, καθώς ἐστιν γεγραμμένον· Ἄρτον ἐκ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ ἔδωκεν αὐτοῖς φαγεῖν. 32 εἶπεν οὖν αὐτοῖς ὁ Ἰησοῦς· Ἀμὴν ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν, οὐ Μωϋσῆς δέδωκεν ὑμῖν τὸν ἄρτον ἐκ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ, ἀλλ’ ὁ πατήρ μου δίδωσιν ὑμῖν τὸν ἄρτον ἐκ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ τὸν ἀληθινόν· 33 ὁ γὰρ ἄρτος τοῦ θεοῦ ἐστιν ὁ καταβαίνων ἐκ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ καὶ ζωὴν διδοὺς τῷ κόσμῳ. 34 εἶπον οὖν πρὸς αὐτόν· Κύριε, πάντοτε δὸς ἡμῖν τὸν ἄρτον τοῦτον.
In my last blog, we looked at the wordplay in this section regarding the “work” of God and that of the followers of God. In today’s blog based on the same passage, we draw out Jesus’ interesting formulaic response to the crowd surrounding him indicating his familiarity with biblical interpretation of his day. Jesus comes across here as something of a Bible scholar. It reminds me of the Road to Emmaus episode in Luke 24 where Jesus does Bible study with two disciples to give them hope.
This all centers around what we noted before: the giving of manna — divine food from above — to the wandering Hebrews under Moses was considered among the greatest miracles during Moses’ leadership. The crowd cites in verse 31, “The Scriptures say, ‘Moses gave them bread from heaven to eat.’” However, nowhere in the Bible does it say this. There are passages, however, that say God provides bread from heaven.
Jesus responds to the crowd, “Moses did not give [past tense in Greek] you the bread from heaven, but my father gives [present tense] the true bread from heaven.” The NLT English flows better for modern readers, but my translation here is more literal which is important only because it reveals a rabbinic midrash-type response — a method people were familiar with in Jesus’ time. Jesus appears to be saying basically, “when Scripture says ‘he’ gave you bread from heaven, the ‘he’ is not Moses, it is my father. Furthermore, my father is present now giving the true bread from heaven, which is the Son.”
Jesus not only gave original teaching but also re-interpreted the Hebrew Scriptures in an effort to show God was at work in him in a new way providing the true miracle bread.
And the people responded, “Lord, always give us this bread.”
Indeed! Because He feeds the deepest hunger within.